By Bob Kratzer & Rob Fuentes
It is 8 am on July 5th and we are in our in our 23’ Alumaweld Super Vee running up the Nushagak River headed to one of our many favorite spots upstream of camp, about three miles. It is a beautiful sunny day in southwest Alaska right in the heart of the king salmon season. We decided to ‘bobber dog’ some Pautzke cured eggs for our chosen technique of the morning. As we pull up to the fishing hole, we are the only boat there (not to our amazement). We have set our bobber stops at 10 feet, baited our double hook rigs, we’re ready to fish. I lower the kicker, set the boat about 50 feet off of the high bank and have the guests get ready. The fisherman in the back casts first and then each person casts, moving towards to the bow of the boat. Each bait settles into their lie and we start our ½ mile drift. It does not take but 20 yards and the first bobber disappears and with a quick hook set, we are into our first king salmon. As our guest starts working her fish towards the back of the boat, another bobber goes down and it is a double, but before we can yell double another bobber goes down and it is a triple. We continue on our first drift of many, landing nine nice kings in just our first 20 minutes. This kind of action would continue all day long, ending our day with 21 triples and two quads with a total of 117 kings landed in one day for four anglers, with the fish ranging in size from 15 to 38 pounds. Even more impressive was that we never left the same fishing location all day.
The Nushagak River is located in the southwest area of Alaska. The river begins in the Alaska Range and flows approximate 280 miles southwest into Nushagak Bay. As a premier river in the Bristol Bay region we find all five species of salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic char, grayling, Dolly Varden and northern pike located in various parts of the system. The “Nush” boasts the largest run of kings of any other river in the state with historical runs reaching 500,000 and average runs of 100,000. Historically, this is one of the most consistent runs in all of Alaska.
The summer of 2011 was no disappointment. It turned into one of the typical summers that we are accustomed to. This was one of the best runs, season long, that we have seen in years. We noticed that the average size also seemed to be heavier than normal, with most fish in the 15-30 pound rage. Our personal logs noted many fish in the 35-38 pound range. Our boats routinely landed 40-65 fish a day. On our best days we landed over 100 kings per boat.
Multiple techniques are involved throughout the season depending on water levels, clarity, temperature and tides. Most common techniques include back trolling with plugs, trolling spinners, dragging eggs or bobber dogging eggs. There are many other techniques and variation that change based on water conditions.
Our facilities are top rated with comfortable camping conditions. All guest tents are comprised of weather port tents on wooden platforms with comfortable beds and warm bedding. Comfortable restrooms and hot showers are provided to make your stay even more enjoyable. Drying tents keep your gear dry and ready for the next day’s adventures. Hearty meals are served by our Chef for breakfast and dinners, while lunches are family style. You will not go hungry.
As we gear up for this summer, all projected reports lead us to believe that we will have an even stronger season for 2012. We are prepared for a season of bent rods and line stripping action. And don’t forget, we also cater to the fly fisherman as we enjoy swinging flies or nymphing for kings. In addition to kings, the chum runs can also be incredible while catching fish after fish. Finish off the trip with a little northern pike on top water and you have a true variety packed trip.
Alaska Kingfishers has been on the river for many years and has hosted groups from all over the world. We provide 4 Night/4 Day fishing trips and can accommodate groups up to 16 guests. For those of you that want the comfort of a lodge and the variety of multiple locations, we have Alaska’s Bearclaw Lodge. Alaska’s Bearclaw Lodge is located 60 miles west, by air, on Lake Aleknagik and offers combination trips for 8-10 guests a week. You can spend three days fishing the crystal clear waters of the Wood River system for rainbows, Arctic char, grayling and sockeye salmon and then fly over to the Nush for two days of fishing for kings. Alaska’s Bearclaw Lodge also fishes the Nushagak for silvers in August. Both options provide you with an incredible Alaskan experience that can be customized for your groups.
The Nushagak’s unimaginable runs of king, chum and sockeye salmon are certainly worthy of the trip by themselves. However, once on the river you will find yourself gazing off into the vast wilderness, witnessing bears feed on salmon or watching moose cross the river. The camp seems like an “Old Friend” to our returning anglers and soon it will be your next summer home. Whether you are looking to land two or three dozen kings in a day, catch your first 50 pounder or just looking for a unique Alaskan fishing adventure, you need look no further. Your camp awaits: Alaska Kingfishers (www.alaskakingfishers.com or 1-360-374-3148) and Alaska’s Bearclaw Lodge (www.bearclawlodge.com or 1-866-429-2327). We are known as “The King of King Camps”. Come join us and you too will be saying,” FISH ON” and on and on and on!